updated 8/11/2009 8:56:30 PM ET 2009-08-12T00:56:30

A man accused of hiring a U.S. Army soldier and another man to kill a Mexican drug cartel lieutenant who was cooperating with U.S. authorities was himself a government informant, a police official said Tuesday.

Ruben Rodriguez Dorado hired Pfc. Michael Jackson Apodaca, 18, and Christopher Duran, 17, to help kill Jose Daniel Gonzalez Galeana, El Paso police said Tuesday in charging documents against the three men. The three men were arrested Monday and charged with capital murder in the May 15 slaying of Gonzalez, who was shot eight times outside his pricey El Paso home.

A warrant has been issued for a fourth man, 33-year-old Jesus Aguayo Salas, on a capital murder charge. Investigators said Aguayo, also a ranking cartel official in Mexico, ordered and paid for the hit.

Rodriguez, like Gonzalez, was an informant working with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement service, El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen said.

Visa given to him by ICE
Gonzalez was living in El Paso on a visa given to him by the ICE, Allen said. He is believed to be the first ranking cartel member killed in the United States.

In a written statement, ICE spokeswoman Leticia Zamarripa declined to comment on the case.

"As a matter of policy, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) does not confirm or deny identification of confidential sources of information," she said.

Apodaca, Duran and Rodriguez were being held on $1 million bond. It was not immediately clear if Apodaca or Duran had retained lawyers. Online court documents didn't list attorneys for any of the three men, and police said they didn't know.

Rodriguez's lawyer, Russell M. Aboud did not respond to a phone message Tuesday.

Apodaca, who was stationed at nearby Fort Bliss, told investigators he was paid to kill Gonzalez, according to police. Duran said he drove the getaway car, police said.

Allen said Apodaca and Duran were paid "quite a robust amount of money ... under $10,000, in that area."

According to the charging documents, the Juarez cartel wanted Gonzalez killed because they believed he was a government informant or had changed his allegiance to a rival cartel, and had provided information to authorities that led to the arrest of a more senior cartel member.

Gonzalez's associates first became suspicious of him after cartel lieutenant Pedro "El Tigre" (The Tiger) Aranas Sanchez was arrested in 2008 and a cartel storage facility was raided by Mexican authorities, El Paso police Lt. Alfred Lowe said.

Gonzalez was in fact an informant for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, according to three U.S. officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about it.

Job was to coordinate surveillance
Investigators said Rodriguez told them Monday that like Gonzalez, he was a midlevel member of the Juarez cartel, which he referred to as the "Compania." He said his job was to coordinate surveillance by "following intended victims up until their execution in Mexico," and that he had been ordered to track down Gonzalez, according to the charging documents.

Gonzalez, who apparently ran a freight company from his two-story home, was aware Rodriguez was looking for him and told a witness he would be killed if Rodriguez found him, police said.

Lowe said ICE officials knew Gonzalez was wanted by the cartel when they gave him the visa that allowed him to live in El Paso.

The night of the killing, Rodriguez, Apodaca and Duran tracked down Gonzalez at a relative's home in nearby Canutillo, followed him home and killed him, investigators said. A witness reported hearing an argument in Spanish just before the shooting, police said.

Recruited men to work for him
Apodaca, a native of El Paso, enlisted in September and was assigned to the 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade. A Fort Bliss spokeswoman, Jean Offutt, declined to discuss the specifics of Apodaca's case.

Investigators said Rodriguez recruited a small group of El Paso men to work for him.

"He was the older guy, he provided the alcohol, the party locations," Lowe said. "And he recruited these people to do his bidding."

Apodaca, Duran, Rodriguez and a 16-year-old boy were arrested about a week-and-a-half after the Gonzalez killing and charged with trying to steal a truckload of televisions from an El Paso dealership, Cazador Logistics. Those charges are pending.

Sheriff's deputies said the four tried to hook a 53-foot trailer containing the TVs onto a sport utility vehicle but were unsuccessful and fled. They were arrested later east of the city.

The 16-year-old's name was withheld because he was treated as a juvenile.

Strained relations among authorities
It was not immediately clear how the other three pleaded in that case.

Lowe said after that arrest, investigators linked the trio together though one of Rodriguez's relatives.

The shooting and the involvement of two ICE informants has strained relations among authorities in El Paso.

Allen, the police chief, said he has twice met with ICE officials to complain about the lack of cooperation and information about potentially dangerous informants living in El Paso. Allen lives in the neighborhood where Gonzalez was killed and heard the shots from his backyard.

"The protocols are antiquated," Allen said of information sharing between federal and local agencies. "We want to see some changes ... so we're all working from the same page."

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